Fuck Mainstream Gaming

March 8, 2009

I agree 100% with everything in this post at Eegra. Here’s a snippet.

The point is, don’t worry about those fucking expensive games. Fuck ‘em. They’re probably shit, and even if they aren’t, fuck ‘em – spend that money on a trip overseas.

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I recently read this article about F2P Asian MMO ZT Online. ZT Online is heavily focused on getting players to spend real money on in-game stuff, to the point where it is virtually unplayable without paying. The original article was written in Chinese, and has been taken down from its original posting and many other websites, due to pressure from the operators of ZT Online.

It’s a rather long read, but it provides some great insight into a direction that Western MMOs could possibly take, seeing as the whole “microtransaction” thing is starting to really take root here. If microtransactions as used in ZT Online are the future of MMOs, then count me out.

Escape from City 17

February 17, 2009

If you haven’t seen this, it’s worth checking out. The Half-Life universe is a very rich setting, and I will use any excuse to get more of it. The video itself isn’t that long, but is impressive for an independent work. This is what happens when people who are passionate about games make video game movies. These guys aren’t Uwe Boll trying to make money in some European tax haven. They are HL fans, and it shows in their work. I hope to see more of these soon.

Stephanie Lane Sutton, my significant other and artist of the tiles for Pattern Behavior, has finally decided to join me on WordPress. Her blog, Fire Underground is offering free sex advice to anyone.

“Send questions regarding sex, relationships, and sexual politics to fires.underground@gmail.com with the subject line “fireunderground advice”

Your question will be answered from a feminist perspective in a blog post at fireunderground.wordpress.com.

Please note that I am not a medical authority, but an activist for sexual rights.”

Link to post

Spore Ruined Christmas

January 4, 2009

I received a copy of Spore for Christmas, and was genuinely excited to play the game. I had held off buying it as soon as it came out, and nobody had anything too bad to say about it (Besides a couple of lawsuits over SecureROM). Spore is a good game, and I have been enjoying it, although I’m not sure if the tormenting ordeal to get it to work was worth it.

Installing the game worked as it should, but as soon as I clicked the icon to run Spore, it crashed. I got a screen resolution change, and then an error that really didn’t tell me much. Rather than messing with the settings, I Googled to see if other people were having this same problem.

It turns out, a pretty substantial amount of people have had/are having the same problem. I sifted through pages and pages of Google results of errors similar to mine, and never really found a clear fix. Dozens of people were having problems with the game, and in each help thread I found, they really weren’t getting anywhere. For every suggestion on what to do to fix Spore, there were three more people asking for another possible solution.

I fiddled with Spore until about 4AM, when I finally found the solution. Three re-installs and a lengthy SecureROM removal process later, I got the game to work by installing it in a folder on the desktop. Let me repeat that. I got Spore to work not by installing it in the default Program Files folder, or even a folder directly on my C: drive. I have no idea why this works…it just does. It seems that not many people know about this method, but the few places I’ve seen mention it seem to have a couple of people that this worked for.

Spore is a decent game, as I said, but it is broken. So broken that the default install directory causes the game to crash. Actually, pretty much anything will cause Spore to crash. I have had Spore crash on me more times than I am comfortable with on both the PC and Mac versions. If anything, EA should be sued for distributing a program that barely works, in addition to distributing non-consensual software.

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Amazon’s Game Room Blog recently did a piece on viewing flash games as political cartoons. With about 5,000 flash games out now depicting the George W. Bush shoe throwings, I can see why someone might tend to see flash games like that in the same vein as political cartoons. I think the writer of the article is taking things a little too seriously though.

They were instead designed to capture the moment, and immortalize it from a particular point of view that people in this particular time can appreciate, or at least recognize

Wrong. The majority of flash games depicting real life events are not made to “capture a moment.” They are made to make money. Every Bush shoe throwing game I have played has been complete and utter shit. These flash game developers are simply capitalizing off of a current event. Even the developer of the most popular shoe throwing game, Sock and Awe, has stated his intentions.

It was just a bit of fun, a bit of an experiment. It’s actually turned out to be a useful fundraising exercise for our start-up, which is good given the present economic circumstances.

Sock and Awe was sold on eBay about four days after its release for almost $8,000. In some of the other games I have played, the ad space is almost bigger than the game window. I have no problem with this, because people do need to make money, but I don’t think flash games are anywhere near the realm of political cartoon. There is no concern or attention paid to why the shoe is being thrown. The plight of Iraq’s citizens goes unheard, because the Western world thinks that shoe throwing is just plain hilarious. Games like this don’t care why a shoe was thrown, they just seek to make a quick advertising buck off the event.

When a political cartoon is created, it is not simply documenting an event as much as it is documenting an opinion on an event. Political cartoons are meant to persuade the viewer. Political flash games are designed to persuade the viewer into clicking an ad. There is no legitimate social commentary in today’s flash games, so they should not be viewed as political cartoons, or anything similar.

Game Maker Ruins My Life

December 15, 2008

Game Maker and I have a very love/hate relationship. I love it because it lets me create in a few hours what would normally takes days or weeks to do. I hate it because everything about GM is just so damn inconsistent. Game Maker is the English language of programming languages. It isn’t designed well at all, but it somehow works and works well.

Right now I haven’t been able to work on as much stuff due to the fact that any GM games crash on startup on my laptop, which is what I spend 80% of my time on. Fortunately, Game Maker 5.3A games are running fine, so it does present an interesting challenge of using a tool that I have largely forgotten about. Version 5.3A is a far step back from the current version, and looking at some of the features that didn’t exist in the earlier version made me realize how spoiled I am now.

My Game Maker problems are also cross-platform. I have been toying around with the new GM Mac Beta, and I really don’t have anything good to say about it. The sprite editor is a joke, and there is about a 50% chance that your game just won’t load. YoYo Games has slated the open beta for April, and they’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

Am I disappointed by GM sometimes? Yes, but I have been using it for so long now that I would have to invest a large amount of time into changing my dev environment to reach the level of proficiency I have with GM now. I don’t quite think it’s worth it. Maybe someday another technology will come along and sweep me off my feet, but until then, I’m sticking with Game Maker.

Does I-Doser Work?

December 8, 2008

I-Doser is a program that claims to use binaural sounds to induce a state similar to those produced when using certain drugs. Marijuana, LSD, and cocaine are but a few of the many doses I-Doser provides. The program is free to download, and includes an alcohol dose, and additional doses can be purchased for around $4. Alternatively, mp3 files and cracked versions are available all over the internet.

I have been experimenting with I-Doser the past few days, and have pretty much formed a solid opinion on it. I-Doser does, in fact, help you achieve a state beyond that of your normal consciousness, but it does not simulate drugs. I tried the Trip dose, which is supposed to be one of the most potent, taking care to follow I-Doser’s suggestions of being comfortable, in a dimly-lit room, and trying to focus my mind on the dose.

I experienced a slight “out of it” feeling, and a very distinct feeling of unwarranted paranoia. None of these feelings were exactly strong, but definitely noticeable. That happened at the peak of the dose, which was about 25 minutes into it. After the full 35, minutes, I just felt an overall more relaxed feeling, but that also could have been because i was lying in the dark for that long. There were some effects, I am sure of that, but I did not trip my face off.

I went to sleep directly after finishing the dose, as it was pretty late. While, I slept, I experienced a remarkable increase in my ability to remember my dreams, something I’m usually not very good at. I even managed to dream that I had woken up and checked my clock, and it was 1:20. When I actually woke up, at around 10:30, I was absolutely certain that it was past 1:20. Of course, there is no way to tell if this remarkable increase in dream activity is related to I-Doser, but it is not something I experience on a regular basis.

Does I-Doser work? Yes, but not as a “drug simulator.” I-Doser serves as more of a type of meditation than a drug. When you take a drug, you can learn to grasp the mental state pretty quickly, but your body must react to the physical aspects of it on its own. This physical aspect it what separates I-Doser from conventional drugs. When you smoke, drink, swallow, etc. a conventional drug, there is reality of knowing that a substance is entering your body, and being able to see its physical aspects. When you listen to an I-Doser dose, there is no smoking, drinking, or swallowing, just sitting there. It is that fundamental lack of tactility that will continuously sow the seed of doubt in the user’s mind.

I-Doser would work work better if it were treated as more of a meditation style, making sure that the user knows that there will be a large amount of effort exerted on his or her own part mentally. The entire dose does not depend so much on the sound being played, as it does the user’s own ability to react to the sound. Meditation is something that requires practice, and so is I-Doser.

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I’m fairly convinced that the new Star Trek movie is going to suck. I’ve established that already. There is, however, an interesting alternative, for those who need their Star Trek fix.

Star Trek: Phase II is an independent effort to recreate a full year’s worth of Star Trek episodes, that takes place where the original series left off. It is completely free to stream or download. I find it to be very entertaining, as much more emphasis is placed on story, because they don’t really have to keep up with special effects. The goal of the show is to continue the Star Trek universe, not to create a new sleek, futuristic image that conforms with the commercial ideal of “cool.”

I would’ve really liked to see the new Star Trek movie embrace the retro aspects of Star Trek at least to a small extent, but Star Trek: Phase II definitely suffices.

Diversity in Indie Games

November 26, 2008

inf3a

I recently saw the above picture on an indie games blog, and something about it really bothers me. These three people are supposed to represent the leaders of the indie game movement, and all three of them are white males.

Women make up a large part of game sales, and in certain age groups, the percentage of women who play games is higher than men. Why do women only account for 12% of the industry?

Minorities have also been shoved to the side in the video game revolution. Almost every minority video game character is a blatant stereotype. Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter both had their Native American stereotypes, and The Escapist details the lack of black characters in games. The large majority of games feature white protagonists.

With the way independent developers are making names for themselves these days, I really hope to see something make it big that isn’t developed by a white guy. We aren’t the mainstream industry, so let’s not act like it.